Saturday, April 10, 2021

‘It Didn’t Really Hit Me Until Just Now’: Maia Chaka Named First Black Woman NFL Referee (Watch)

Maia Chaka
Maia Chaka on NBC’s Today

*The NFL has hired Maia Chaka as a game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black woman to join the league’s on-field officiating staff.

Chaka will join Sarah Thomas as the only women to officiate an NFL game. Thomas was hired in 2015 and was part of the crew that worked Super Bowl LV last month. The NFL announced Chaka’s hiring Friday morning during a segment on the “Today” show.

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SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 09: Referee Maia Chaka officiates while the Salt Lake Stallions and the San Diego Fleet play in the Alliance of American Football game at SDCCU Stadium on March 09, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/AAF/Getty Images)

“It didn’t really hit me until just now,” she told Today’s Craig Melvin about making NFL history, after seeing a video of her career highlights. “I’ve been at it for so long, and I just never thought the day would come.”

Watch below:

The NFL annually updates its roster of officials due to retirements, departures and position changes of its existing group. Replacements are typically chosen from the league’s officiating development program, which is made up of officials from various levels who have been identified for potential promotion. Chaka joined the program in 2014.

“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance — including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program — have earned her a position as an NFL official,” said Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”

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